Retailer of the Week
25 Apr. 2012
SILVIA VERGANI, AUGUSTO VERGANI, TREZZO SULL'ADDA (MILAN), ITALYThe collection of Augusto Vergani fashion stores - all based in one of the main squares of Trezzo sull'Adda, near Milan - are a must for fashion aficionados. Instead of social networking, they find staying open on Sundays more helpful: "Sunday is the new Saturday for shopping aficionados," comments owner Silvia Vergani. "Our core business is designer brands, along with those people who can't resist having a look and buying some new jeans, a fun t-shirt or some cool sneakers." Jeans and sneakers work like accessories and are indispensable. Interview by Maria Cristina Pavarini
"What's new is color and some neon hints, but not much else, unfortunately."
We are based in a small town near Milan and our store is located in a square that hosts different boutiques, each one dedicated to single target and product families - designer fashion, jeanswear, research brands, accessories, footwear and kidswear. The biggest store measures 400 sqm and offers designer brands such as Dolce&Gabbana, Ermanno Scervino, Blumarine and basically all of the most important designer brands. Another store offers second lines like Armani Jeans, a more affordable selection of Dolce &Gabbana (since D&G unfortunately no longer exists) and upmarket sportswear brands like Who's Who, Moncler, Peuterey, La Martina, Sun68 and Notify. Another one of our stores offers more research products and lesser-known but interesting and appealing brands like Le Rock (most appreciated for its very good price-quality ratio, as its's sold at €140 retail), Black Orchid (a Spanish women's jeanswear brand, offered at €239) and People (another men and women's jeans brand people love, sold at €220-€230).
Our bestsellers remain designer brands since they represent our clients' basis of purchase and our own bestsellers. Brunello Cucinelli is our bestselling brand, while considering that a plain white shirt from that collection costs €600 at retail. For this, if I have to say what sells best – rather than designer's second lines, which were most successful in the past – I must say that today the research brands are the most interesting, still affordable and characterized by great quality. Le Rock, People and Black Orchid look and fit great and even a 50-year-old woman can buy them. Also, referring to accessories, Tod's and all of that group's brands also sell well and, for example, the Leather Crow footwear company, which offers zipped sneakers for both men and women. Another successful brand is Happiness, a t-shirt brand carrying fun slogans like “I wanna be good tonight.”
Over all, I either sell high-luxury brands or innovative, fun and great products.
"Sundays are the new Saturdays; people have time to walk around and go shopping."
I generally visit showrooms, even when my father Augusto – who founded the store 40 years ago – still makes orders for the designer collections. Even though he's getting older, he still has that special ability to recognize - and buy - what will sell. Showrooms that do great research, however, are a very good source of information; for instance, here in Milano Malpighi 4 does great scouting.
When we decide what to offer in our store, we always go against the tide. After a while, after we've discovered a brand, we start going in a different direction. For example, we first liked Jo No Fui and now we are turning to Miss & Mister Fur, another brand of military green outer jackets all lined with colorful fur.
Our main strategy is to be in touch with our clients in person rather than connecting via social networks. To encourage this we stay open every Sunday and take our day off on Monday instead. Sundays are the new Saturdays; people have time to walk around and go shopping. Moreover, some passing-by tourist might drop in since we're located near the Adda River where many people come to visit and sunbath. We don't do Facebook or Twitter, but we did recently start a website. Most importantly, our clients know us because we have been doing this work for 40 years.
What do the collections you have on offer for next spring/summer look like?
There aren't that many new trends that will characterize the new season. What's new is color and some neon hints, but not much else, unfortunately.
Have you added any new labels to your assortment?
No new brands, actually. Just a few additions, but only in the luxury segment. Among our research brands, we just added S.W.O.R.D., a made in Italy brand of leather jackets discovered by the Boiocchi showroom, also very good in their research.
What do you like most about your customers? How do people buy- according to their favorite brand, style or impulse?
Having been in the market so long, people come to our stores to buy high-end fashion and then have a look around and maybe buy a pair of jeans or some nice sneakers. Some clients - the less fashion-addicted ones - are just looking for denim products, more so over the last two years since we opened this research-driven store.
How does your store differ from other stores?
Our clients appreciate when we spend time with them and explain what we are selling and show why a garment is made in a certain way. These customers are not interested in buying a brand, they are rather attracted by certain special products. At the moment, I most appreciate the customers who like to have a discussion, trust our advice and try something they would have never worn otherwise.
How important is the interior, the atmosphere and the whole package?
The atmosphere is important. Our main store is elegant, though essential. Instead of walls our more research-driven store has only led panel covered walls, which strikes the consumer most. The most important thing at all of our stores is letting people feel at ease and welcomed. If you enter a store in Milan's city centre you feel anxiety around you and you're afraid to touch anything. Here we invite people to look around, sit and get comfortable and offer them a coffee or something to drink.
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